New technology changes the way we live and work every day. From app updates to smart meters for our utilities to HD quality visuals. But sometimes technology improvements are so slight and constant that we don’t notice them - until we look back over a number of years and then we can see what has really changed.
This is particularly true of the print industry. Magazine pictures are better quality and the size and use of PVC banners have grown. Most of us would put this down to the higher quality photos we can now take even on our mobiles or better graphic design. But it's not only the camera technology that has changed. The combination of paper, ink and machinery that has come together to produce the print process has also made huge strides. The lift or 'pop' of colour due to advances in print technology and the sensual feel of quality paper keeps our print industry thriving in a digital age.
Adapting to demand
Did you know that lithographic printing has been going for over 200 years? Litho printing, in general, provides a great balance between quality, quantity and cost. The 1990s was all about offset litho printing, and large runs of leaflets, posters and magazines. The new millennium saw the rise in digital print. We demanded low cost and low quantity runs as our budgets were cut and our collateral moved online. Digital printing may have been the front runner for a while, while we needed to save the pennies, but offset litho printing has also been advancing at the same time.
The rise in popularity of the B3 machine has brought offset printing back into the game. Although it’s been around for years, advances in technology have made significant improvements to offset printing. With the B3 you get offset quality and consistency on substrates up to 600 micron with no click charge.
No more stacking trays
I believe the gap in quality between litho and digital printing has narrowed. To compete with digital printing - in terms of running costs and time - litho printing has to re-think its own technology. When I was first starting in print I remember the gigantic litho machines with standing platforms and the smell of ink in the air. Now machines can be a fifth of the length and there is no smell. The advanced drying systems that use ultra-violet light are a far cry from the 1990s, where prints would be stacked to dry before they could be trimmed and finished. LED-UV means litho machines can now deliver a completely dry sheet in the same way as a digital machine. Delivering ultra-vibrant colours and instant drying becomes the norm and stacking trays are now a thing of the past.
Greener than ever
The industry is also greener than it’s ever been, thanks to the rise in demand for FSC paper. The FSC label guarantees that trees which are harvested will be replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. It is also the only wood certification scheme endorsed by the major environmental charities, including WWF, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust. The scheme protects the rights of indigenous people to use the forest. If they have sacred sites in the forest these are exempt from felling.
Vibrant colour every time
Colour is now more easily managed. We have a colour management process embedded in all of our services including litho, digital and large format. We ensure that our colour reproduction matches ISO standards and that colour is perfectly matched across all print methods and media.
But don't take my word for it. Try our B3 today and check the difference. We are now producing flyers, posters, banners, boards of all dimensions which even a few years ago would have been revolutionary in their clarity of detail and depth of colour. But that's progress for you – it sometimes sneaks up on you without you really noticing.